Skip to main content

The Legal Beat: Kanye’s Lawyers Really Want Out – Plus ‘Uptown Funk,’ Drakeo The Ruler & More

Also this week: the band OK Go faces a case over cereal, Malú Trevejo faces abuse allegations from former staffers and more.

This is The Legal Beat, a weekly newsletter about music law from Billboard Pro, offering you a one-stop cheat sheet of big new cases, important rulings, and all the fun stuff in between. This week: Kanye West’s former lawyers go to extraordinary lengths to cut ties, indie rockers OK Go somehow find themselves in litigation over cereal, BMG is sued over the royalties to “Uptown Funk,” and much more.


Sign up for the free email version of The Legal Beat here.

THE BIG STORY: Kanye’s Lawyers Really, Really Want Out

Just like his corporate partners, his longtime record label, and many of his fans, Kanye West’s lawyers now want nothing to do with him.

In the wake of a string of antisemitic comments last fall, a who’s who of the nation’s top law firms publicly distanced themselves from the rapper. That included Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, the prestigious Wall Street firm that repped him in his dealings with The Gap; Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, a white-shoe litigation firm that West had reportedly sought to hire; and Cohen Clair Lans Greifer Thorpe & Rottenstreich, one of many law firms that briefly handled his divorce from Kim Kardashian.

But no firm has done so with quite the flair of Greenberg Traurig, which had been handling a copyright case that accused West of using an unauthorized sample in one of the songs on Donda 2. After months of being unable to formally notify him that he’d been dropped, the firm has proposed an extraordinary alternative: printing newspaper ads announcing they’re no longer repping the disgraced rapper.

Yes, you read that right. Read the entire story here.

Other top stories this week…

A BAND VERSUS A CEREAL BRAND – In a bizarre new lawsuit, indie rockers OK Go found themselves embroiled in trademark litigation with Post Foods over a new line of on-the-go cereal cups called “OK Go!” The band says Post “chose to steal the name of our band”; Post says those allegations are “unfounded.”

“UPTOWN FUNK” ROYALTIES FIGHT – BMG was hit with a lawsuit claiming it has failed to pay royalties from the smash hit “Uptown Funk” to the families of late members of The Gap Band, who are credited as co-writers on the song. As reported by Billboard at the time, those credits were suddenly added in 2015 (months after the song was released) in an apparent effort to avoid litigation. So much for that…

DRAKEO DEATH CASE MOVES FORWARD – A Los Angeles judge rejected Live Nation’s first attempt to end a wrongful death lawsuit over the 2021 murder of Drakeo the Ruler at a music festival, ruling that the late rapper’s family might have a valid case against the concert giant.

HARRY STYLES FIGHTS COUNTERFEITS – Attorneys for Harry Styles filed a lawsuit against online retailers for allegedly violating his intellectual property rights by selling counterfeit merchandise to unsuspecting fans. The aim was to freeze assets and shut down the fake sites, which the lawyers said were mostly based in China.

DRE’S COPYRIGHT THREATS WORK – Marjorie Taylor Greene responded to a cease and desist letter from Dr. Dre over her unlicensed use of the rapper’s 1999 smash hit “Still D.R.E.,” promising to make “no further use” of the song. Dre had blasted the lawmaker for using his hit to “promote your divisive and hateful political agenda.”

SOCIAL MEDIA STAR SUED FOR ABUSE – Singer and influencer Malú Trevejo was sued by four former staffers, who alleged that they “endured mental, emotional, sexual and physical punishment” during their employment with the 20-year-old artist.